Club hit out at burger plan

Hartlepool United chief executive Russ Green
Hartlepool United chief executive Russ Green

HARTLEPOOL United chiefs are appealing to councillors to block a bid by a burger van owner to operate on its doorstep on matchdays.

Pools’ chief executive Russ Green says the street vendor will hit the club’s takings from the food outlets inside the ground.

Burger van owner James Toogood has applied to Hartlepool Borough Council for a licence to trade from a privately owned site on Clarence Road, just a stone’s throw from Victoria Park.

Mr Toogood received a warning from a council licensing officer after they saw him trading without a licence on January 25.

He has applied to the council to run the burger van in Clarence Road on Pools’ last two home matches of this season on Saturday, April 29, and May 3.

But Pools are strongly opposing the bid, which is set to be decided by the council’s licensing committee on Wednesday.

In his letter to the committee, Mr Green, who believes the van will undercut the club’s food and drink prices, said: “I can confirm that the van will have an effect on our matchday income as we have experienced this from other traders over the past few years.

“HUFC have had to take various courses of action to stop them.”

Mr Green added Pools lose around £1m a year which is covered by owners IOR and the club play a minimum of 23 league games at home during the nine-month football season.

He added: “These games are income generating to the club and anyone who decides to take our custom away on these specific days is going to have an effect on our business.

“We have to pay council tax, land rent and many other fees for licensing, overheads, catering staff, stock and have to follow strict health and safety requirements for a large matchday operation and yet we find that some outside caterer can decide to come to the vicinity of Victoria Park and entice catering business from the club.”

Mr Green added owners IOR expect the council’s support to help stop income “bleeding from Hartlepool United”.

Mr Toogood was not available for comment.

The licensing committee meeting will be held at 10am on Wednesday in Hartlepool Civic Centre.